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Dhan Gopal Mukerji
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Gay Neck The Story Of A Pigeon

3.19 of 5 stars 3.19  ·  rating details  ·  1,119 ratings  ·  108 reviews
1928 Newbery Medal Winner

The story of the training of a carrier pigeon and its service during the First World War, revealing the bird's courageous and spirited adventures over the housetops of an Indian village, in the Himalayan Mountains, and on the French battlefield.
Published (first published July 1st 1927)
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This novel, written in 1928 for children, by a man born in Calcutta, is intense, to say the least. Gay-Neck is a carrier pigeon whose "odyssey" unfolds over several years, as he learns to fly, trains for war, mates, falls into a great funk, and finally comes into The Wisdom of the Lama. Pretty deep stuff, but simply and sweetly told. The illustrations/prints are superb.
A couple of the other Newbery project members and I have -- while attempting to finish Gay-Neck -- discussed the need for a new edition with an updated title. Proposed titles include:

Iridescence-Throated: The story of the pigeon who ran away a lot
Which Colorful Bird?: A story about everything BUT the pigeon
Pigeon Rocks India!: The story of a rich boy, his famous bird, and some random hunter who keeps showing up

Of course, a new edition will never be published because this is one of the most fanta
What a bizarre choice! The reader knows almost nothing about the human narrator and very little about the setting; it really is "the story of a pigeon", but not even an anthropomorphic pigeon, for the most part. It's sort of mesmerizing, and is full of Buddhist wisdom. The story picks up about halfway through, and the episode where the pigeon has post-traumatic-stress disorder is interesting. The illustrations are beautiful.
Originally reviewed on my book blog, Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing

Although I do really enjoy reading book lists, and various award winners, you can't always trust the committees who pick the books. Sometimes, you get a 'bad' on in the bunch. Gay-Neck, the Story of a Pigeon is one such book.

While not a horrid book, Gay-Neck is also not a book I would recommend or reread. I picked it up because it is on the Newbery list, and it is one of only two books thus far that I truly disliked. (The
Phil Jensen
This book is a milestone in anyone's life as a reader. Before it, you are one of a multitude. After it, you are one of a select few who have heard about it, sought it out, picked it up, and persisted with it well past the point of enjoyment.

What does this say about you? Obviously, you are attempting to read all the Newbery Medal winners. Moreover, as you experienced this book, you quickly realized that it is terribly boring. Next, you realized that it has no possible classroom application. Final
This has been a lovely book to read. I think the story has held up well and is still relevant today, 77 years after it was written. I loved the wonderful black and white illustrations which look like they might have originally been from wood block carvings.

I also especially liked it when Gay-Neck himself talked in the story, I wasn't expecting it and I thought several things he said were interesting and fun, for example:

Speaking of geese, he said, "Compared with them, we pigeons seem paragons o
Benji Martin
OK, so I've finished Gay-Neck, and I guess I see why it was in the Newbery discussion. I don't think it was better than Downright Dencey, though. For some reason, the Newbery Committees of the 1920's only saw it fit to give the award to men. Some will say, "But not so fast. Several women won honors those years. The problem with that is, there were no honors back then, they just gave a list of a few runners-up. They weren't back-labeled as Newbery Honors until much later. You and I both know that ...more
I read this book when I was fourteen. We found it in the library and thought it was funny because of the title - Gay Neck?? A pigeon?? But the title is the best part of the book because the rest of it is literally the life story of a pigeon. Not all that exciting. I mean, exciting for a pigeon. Not that exciting for a human reading it.
Jonathan Livingston Seagull IN INDIA?

This charming story which won a Newbery award is based on the actual boyhood memories and experiences of a youth in India and his pet pigeon. Raising pigeons (such as tumblers and carriers) is a serious and honored hobby; there are races and special annual contests among pigeon fanciers. Narrated in the first person by his native owner
this novel introduces readers to a beloved bird named GAY NECK (in English) from his hatching out, through his flight and sur
Sep 21, 2008 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: Newberry
Shelves: newbery
This book wasn't what I expected-which was a book about the training of carrier pigeons and how this one was involved in the war, but it was good. I enjoyed the insights into Hindu philosophy and the overall message.
86 1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Dutton)

9/21/13 197 pages

In the India of the early 1900's, boys commonly kept pigeons. Gay Neck is one of them. The author shares much about the care and training of pigeons and their habits. The story also shows how they were used during WW I. A recurring theme in the book is the danger of fear.
"There was no doubt that the silence of the night was more than mere stillness; stillness is empty, but the silence that beset us was full
Here is another book from the 1920’s that I tried to read quickly to “get it over with,” so that I could move on to the “better” books of the more recent Newbery years. “Gay-Neck, The Story of a Pigeon” gave me more interesting reading than I expected, however.

The book, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji, reflects the author’s youth in India in the early 1900’s. While living in Calcutta, he tells about his beloved carrier pigeons, their lives and their training. Mukerji then moves with his family to the Him
Okay - bird is born, trained, escapes a few times... this was ground breaking literature?

While the writing style wasn't as hard to read as some of the other early Newbery books, I still didn't find it appealing.

There were times when the bird "told his own story". Now, I'm a huge fan of many of the animal character books out there. I loved Rats of NIMH, and I enjoyed Familiars. This? Not so much. I'm not sure why, but there just wasn't much of a voice to the pigeon.

There were scenes from World
This quest to read all the Newberys will be the death of me, or at least will kill my desire to read ever again. It is not that this book is bad, per se. In fact, compared to other Newbery winners of its era, it was a refreshing multi-cultural inclusion. But... a pigeon?

To answer the first question that comes to mind when seeing this book: The name of the pigeon is "Chitra-Griva" which is roughly translated as "brightly colored throat" or "Gay Neck." Hence the rather unfortunate title.

We meet
In this Newbery winner, an Indian boy raises carrier pigeons in the early 1900s. Gay-Neck, named for his colorful neck plumage, is the finest, able to outfly eagles and hawks. When WWI breaks out, Gay-Neck is used as a messenger pigeon under the boy’s friend, Ghond the hunter. The bird must dodge the screaming mechanical eagles (planes) and barking dogs (machine guns) that try to destroy him. Both are wounded, and both develop a form of traumatic disorder. They travel to the lamaseries in the Hi ...more
I like the last chapter the best. At several points the author provides us with incredible prose, such as, "Here the indigo-blue hollow of the sky remained untainted by clouds and untroubled by any movement save the sighing flight of cranes going northwards..." This book covers many topics including war (WW1) and Peace. Complete with a few bits of information about Buddha. The Pigeon, Gay Neck is personified several times in the story, which is entertaining and disarming (who ever knew a pigeon ...more
Aimee Conner
The Newbery committee has spent the last three years choosing books and stories written about or from other countries. This one is from India and I liked it. Mr. Mukerji grew up in India and this story is based, in part, from his experiences as a child in Calcutta. He writes with such flavor, I could hear the narrative in my head with an Indian accent.

Raising homing pigeons seems to have been a common thing back then, and the story tells of boys in the neighborhood having as many as 40 at a time
I liked it - and I would have loved it, as a 'tween avid reader in the late 60s. I loved learning about other cultures - and the culture here is not just the Buddhist & Indian, but also that of carrier pigeons. And I would have just loved the nifty big words. But yes, the Buddhist philosophy would have made a big impact on me.

Yes it's akin to Kipling's Just So Stories but also to Felix Salten's stories, like Bambi and Perri. (Salten was another author disturbed by war, a Jew, whose books wer
Dec 20, 2007 Catherine rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: To devoted Newberians
I only read this book because I'm determined to finish my 20-year-old goal to read all the Newbery Award winners. Like most early Newbery selections, the setting of this book is decidedly more exotic than mainstream 1920s America. This is a tale of a little Indian boy raising a carrier pigeon circa wwI. It has some compelling elements, most notably the author's clear love of Indian jungle life and the Himalayas. Unfortunately, my juvenile mind could never get past the fact that a bird named "Gay ...more
Wonderful book! I highly recommend this book to all intermediate readers and beyond. Actually, it is a great book for parents to read to younger children as well. Despite the seemingly odd title the story is about a pigeon with beautiful colors on its neck and a daring and courageous heart. It is written by an Indian author and is set in India and in WWI France. It is a quick read with adorable characters and entertaining story-telling techniques.

The writing is gorgeous and very vivid. I was so
I think this may be one of the hardest books I've ever had to rate.

In the 1920s the John Newbery award was established to help encourage excellence in children's literature - a newly developing genre. From what I can tell this isn't too much later after the time (according to the James Garfield book I'm reading) families would sit down and the father would read Othello to his children at night.

So do I rate this book as it would have been ranked in the 1920s? Because its biggest barrier, the fo
Nov 30, 2010 Jill rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 10+
Shelves: newbery-medal
The whole time I was reading this book I thought of my niece Amelia saying "The bird nerds would LOVE this!", which is true! maybe not love, but if I didn't like birds the way I do I may not have enjoyed this book as much. I have to say though, of the Newberys about animals and Buddhist philosophy...I'm thinking of The Cat Who Went to Heaven here, this was MUCH better, maybe because this book actually had a plot. The author includes a lot of information about birds and their behavior in a way th ...more
This is not a book I would've chosen to read had it not won the Newbery, but I'm glad I did. I learned a lot about carrier pigeons, and other animals of the Indian jungle. I especially enjoyed the explanation given as to why male pheasants are more colorful than the females. I also enjoyed the wisdom of the Lamas. For example:

"If you pray for other people every morning you can enable them to begin their day with thoughts of purity, courage and love." page 51
"Here let it be inscribed in no equiv
I picked up this book because during our first Newbery Club meeting at the library, I had a couple kids ask if I had read it. I had not so I decided I should. It was better than I expected. I don't usually like animal books all that much (especially if they get hurt - not a spoiler, it's on the back). However, this was a pleasant surprise. We follow the life of Gay-Neck the pigeon from birth through his service in the war. The narrator is a child, living in India, but we never learn his name. Ga ...more
This 1928 Newbery winner is, as the title suggests, about a pigeon. His name comes from "Chitra-griva: Chitra meaning 'painted in gay colours' and Griva, 'Neck'--in one phrase, pigeon Gay-Neck." Set in India and told from the point of view of the young man who is Gay-Neck's owner, the real strength of this book comes from the chapters that take place near the Himalayas and the vivid descriptions of the wildlife and creatures that live in that area. Children particularly interested in birds or In ...more
Ruth E.
1928Newbery winner -author/illustrator Dhan Goal Mukeri/Boris Artzybasheffe - The story of a young boy training carrier pigeons. Gay-Neck was the main charcter Sometimes the story was told by the boy and other times it was told by the pigeon. Gay-neck was used in WWI on the French battle fields to take messages back and forth from the frontlines. He was injured and his pigion companion was killed. The story of his overcomeing the fear of flying. Gay-neck was raised on a housetop with other carri ...more
I actually enjoyed this book. However, I once again would not recommend this Newbery winner to my students. It is set in India and tells the story of a man and his pigeon, Gay-neck. It was interesting to learn how pigeons are trained and taught. The parts I enjoyed the most were when they were traveling in the mountains and would stay at the monasteries. The beliefs expressed by the Buddhist monks were beautiful and profound. But most children would not be interested, even if they could get past ...more
Bear through the slow start of this book, and you will be rewarded. The portrayal of a pigeon's life through his own eyes reveals a culturally particular outlook. Thematic elements are didactic yet powerful, especially coming from a foreign voice of the 1920s. This book presents lessons in perspective that are appropriate and necessary for children (of all ages!).
Jenny K
An okay story. I mean how deep of a story can you write when writing about a pigeon? There were a few nuggets of wisdom hidden in the pages. "Here let it be inscribed in no equivocal language that almost all of our troubles come from fear, worry and hate. If any man catches one of the three, the other two are added unto it."
It is very evident of the authors love for his country, the jungle, and his birds. Well written even if not terribly fascinating.
2.5 I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. There are bold black and white drawings and interesting insights into animal behavior better than Doctor Dolittle's and some lines worth quoting:
"It is a pity that we have to win our pigeons' confidence by feeding their stomachs, but alas! I have noticed that there are many men and women who resemble pigeons in this respect!"
"Such is the price of leadership--the other name of self-sacrifice."
"Can those who see buffalo in captivity ever conceive ho
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Children's Books: Winner (no Honors) from 1928 9 65 Jan 04, 2014 11:40AM  
Newbery Books: April 2013 Read - Gay Neck: Story of a Pigeon 2 12 May 01, 2013 10:19AM  
Help me! 1 12 Apr 30, 2009 07:10PM  
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Dhan Gopal Mukerji was an author of children's books. Born in a small village in India on July 6, 1890, he was passionate about bringing understanding of the Indian people and culture to American readers through his own unique brand of expressive and poetic language.
In 1936, the driven yet unhappy Dhan Gopal Mukerji took his own life, in New York City. He was forty-six years of age.
Dhan Gopal M
More about Dhan Gopal Mukerji...
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“Whatever we think and feel will colour what we say or do. He who fears, even unconsciously, or has his least little dream tainted with hate, will inevitably, sooner or later, translate these two qualites into action. Therefore, my brothers, live courage, breathe courage and give courage. Think and feel love so that you will be able to pour out of yourselves peace and serenity as naturally as a flower gives forth fragrance. Peace be unto all!!!” 2 likes
“No beast of prey can kill its victim without frightening him first. In fact, no animal perishes until its destroyer strikes terror into its heart. To put it succinctly, an animals fear kills it before its enemy gives it the final blow.” 1 likes
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